The Finnish Research Infrastructure for Public Opinion (FIRIPO) is a multidisciplinary consortium for the study of public opinion, attitude formation and choice behavior. The central aims of the consortium are to systematize and coordinate scientific research on public opinion and choice behaviour in Finland, as well as to learn, develop and share (new) surveymethods in public opinion research. The consortium will also create an open node for public opinion research, and accelerate open science aims through open data and open collaboration in public opinion research in collaboration with the Finnish Social Science Data Archive FSD.
The Center of Excellence ”The Future of Democracy” (FutuDem) sets out to study democracy with a comparative and multi-methodological approach. We decipher the current condition of democracy and test new deliberative and participatory models of democracy in order to make claims and suggestions regarding the future of democracy. This funding boosts Åbo Akademi’s position as the leading university in research on public opinion in Finland.
The Social Science Research Institute (Samforsk) coordinates the Centre and brings together political scientists from Åbo and Vasa. FutuDem collaborates with leading democracy scholars in the world. It also tries to give policy-makers advise as how to involve citizens in democratic decision-making. This is done in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, the City of Turku, and the Finnish and Swedish associations of local and regional authorities. The project is set to last until 2023.
The institute is in a leading position concerning research on Finland Swedish opinion. The most important study, Barometern, was conducted annually between 2002 and 2014 among the Swedish speaking population in Finland. Researcher Kjell Herberts initiated the study. In the report “Opinioner och trender i svenskfinland”, edited by Herberts and published in 2008 by the Social Science research institute, several social scientists analyze the results of the survey between 2001 and 2007. The survey was conducted again in 2019 under the leadership of researcher Marina Lindell. The aim of the survey was to analyze changes in Finland Swedish opinion, language choices, the quality of services in Swedish, consumption patterns, and other prevailing issues. The research report Vad tycker Svenskfinland? was published in July 2020.
Since 2004, Språkbarometern has been used to study how linguistic services have been implemented in bilingual municipalities. Språkbarometern measures how members of the linguistic minority in different municipalities perceive linguistic services. Språkbarometern is conducted every four years and was last conducted in 2020, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and the Association of Finnish Municipalities. Språkbarometern is also used as a foundation for the “Report of the Government on the application of language legislation”. The research report “Språkbarometern 2004-2016” is available on the website of the Ministry of Justice. Samforsk has also published two prior reports – ”Service på svenska och finska – ett medborgarperspektiv” (2008) and ”Service på svenska och finska – i minoritetsperspektiv” (2012). The research results of Språkbarometern 2020 was published by the Ministry of Justice in 2021.
Coordinating Machine Politics and Clientelism: Variation in Non-Programmatic Electoral Strategies” (2018-2023), Academy Research Fellow Inga Saikkonen
Incumbents in authoritarian regimes and new democracies can use a variety of non-programmatic electoral strategies, such as electoral fraud and electoral clientelism, to skew the ‘electoral playing field’ in their favour. However, these electoral strategies are by no means cost-free or necessarily that efficient, and require complex delegation and coordination at several levels of the electoral ‘machine’. This project is part of emerging comparative literature that investigates how various contextual conditions within countries mitigate the delegation problems associated with the coordination of electoral malfeasance and electoral clientelism. These substantively and normatively important questions are investigated with original qualitative and quantitative data, as well as experimental methods.
DemDialogue – The societal discussion climate – from polarization and hate speech to constructive democratic dialogue (2021–2022), Professor Kim Strandberg and University Lecturer Klas Backholm
The project studies the societal discussion climate in connection to news articles. The study is conducted partly by assessing the quality of the discussion and the dynamic of the discussion climate, and in part by studying the journalists’ view on the phenomenon. Co-creation workshops will also be used in collaboration with media agents as a method to find ways to strengthen the societal discussion climate. The project is funded by Högskolestiftelsen i Österbotten.
The project studies affective polarization on an individual basis among the Swedish speaking population in Finland. The project is funded by Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland. Surveys and survey experiments from the Barometer are used in the study to examine the extent, cause and effects of affective polarization among the Swedish speaking population in Finland. The project aims to test various solution models by which affective polarization can be stopped.
EmoAffect – Emotional social media and affective publics? The role of Discrete Emotions in Explaining Individual-level Affective Polarization (2022-2026), Professor Kim Strandberg
This four-year project is funded by the Academy of Finland and studies the role of emotional reactions in the creation of individual-level affective polarization. The project can be divided into two parts. The first part examines peoples’ emotional reactions to emotionally loaded statements in social media. The reactions are studied in the Experience lab at Åbo Akademi University in Vasa. While conducting the study, various methods for measuring emotional reactions are evaluated. In the second part of the project, the role of affective polarization together with other individual-level factors is studied through surveys in the citizens’ panel Kansalaismielipide-Medborgaropinion.
Re-thinking opinion change: the role of framing, communication dynamics and personality (1.9.2022-31.8.2027), Academy Research Fellow Marina Lindell
How opinions are formed and whether it is done rationally is highly topical in democracy research. Which aspects of a subject that is emphasized can affect citizens’ opinions and their tendency to take new arguments and new information into account. Researchers in deliberative democracy has increasingly emphasized the significance of hearing each other’s views and this project is the first to empirically analyze the quality of the hearing. The aim is to develop a new model where framing of message, group composition, communication dynamic factors (with a focus on speaking/acting/listening) and personality can describe opinions. To empirically test the model, both quantitative and qualitative methods are used. The project is interdisciplinary research and combines theories from social psychology, political behavior and deliberative democracy.
Read the latest results from Språkbarometern 2020
Results from the Fenno-Swedish citizens’ panel “Medborgarpanelen Barometern” 2019-2020
The second edition is now available!
The conclusions and recommendations of the Citizens’ Panel are listed in this report
Korsholm2020 is a research project funded by Högskolestiftelsen i Österbotten. The aim of this project is to analyze how the political environment is affected by municipality level referendums. The project is directly related to the fact that there has recently been two referendums in Ostrobothnia regarding proposed municipality mergers. For this research purpose, a survey will be conducted in one of these municipalities, Mustasaari, during the autumn of 2020, with the specific aim of collecting survey data about the effects on public opinion derived from a referendum process. The results will be presented in a public report in the beginning of 2021.
Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO) is a multidisciplinary research project that focuses on the problems related to long-term decision-making practices. The PALO project aims to strengthen democracy by developing better practices for deliberative citizen participation and public decision-making. By reforming policy-making processes, we can place more emphasis on long-term consequences and the needs of future generations. The PALO consortium consists of four organisations: the University of Turku, the Natural Resource Institute Finland, Åbo Akademi University and the University of Tampere. The multidisciplinary research group consists of political scientists, environmental researchers, psychologists, behavioural economists and philosophers. The Strategic Research Council (SRC) at the Academy of Finland funds the four-year (2017-2021) project. The SRC funds programme-based research aimed at finding concrete solutions to the major challenges Finnish society faces today.
Democratic Innovations in Finland and Political Legitimacy (2015–2020), Academy Research Fellow Henrik Serup Christensen
The aim of the project is to examine whether democratic innovations have helped improve the democratic legitimacy in Finland. Democratic innovations are various instruments that aim to increase popular involvement in political decision making. Several countries, including Finland, have introduced such measures with the ambition to increase political legitimacy. However, the effect is still unclear as systematic research is lacking. The research questions in the project are examined with different data and methods to increase validity.
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Involving citizens through deliberative processes? -Experimental evidence on central causal mechanisms, and their applicability to real-life policy-making, of deliberative mini-publics. (2016–2021), Academy Research Fellow Kim Strandberg
The project studies central causal mechanisms in discourse quality and the democratic effects of deliberative mini-publics. In addition, the project also examines their applicability to real-life policy-making. The project consists of two components. Component A studies central causal mechanism in mini-publics. Here, the impact of three groups of independent variables – recruitment methods, group composition, and discussion types – on discourse quality and democratic effects are tested. Component B focuses on the effects of deliberative mini-publics and associating these with real-life policy-making.
Consortium of Trust Research – Pathways to Political trust (CONTRE), 2015–2019
The project seeked to enhance the understanding of long- and short-term variations in political trust in contemporary established democracies. It adopted a multilevel approach which involves political demand (individual citizens), political supply (political actors and political performance) and the societal and political context in which demand and supply interact. The project was based on a broad comparative perspective, and produced novel information by combining results from large-scale surveys with experimental set-ups. The study expands the understanding of political decision-makers and general public on the determinants of political trust, and how it is maintained in societies. The research was conducted in two interlinked sub-projects “Process” University of Tampere and “Structure” Åbo Akademi University, led by Adjuct Professor Elina Kestilä-Kekkonen and Professor Kimmo Grönlund.
OstroInvolve 2.0 (2016–2019), Project Leader: Kim Strandberg
OstroInvolve 2.0 was a 4-year project funded by Högskolestiftelsen i Österbotten, the aim of which was to strengthen the local democracy by arranging deliberative citizen forums as field experiments. In collaboration with a municipal partner, the project organized nine citizen forums concerning political questions of varying significance. The scientific aim of the project was mainly to study how these discussions complement representative democracy on a local level, and how participants perceive and are affected by them.
Personalization of electoral competition: long-term institutional effects on party-voter linkages and party systems (2014–2019), Academy Research Fellow Peter Söderlund
The research project explores the impact of candidate-centred electoral institutions on party-voter linkages and party system development across Europe since the 1960s. The developments can be understood through the personalization of politics, which entails candidates increasingly running individual campaigns to attract personal votes and citizens increasingly voting for candidates based on their personal qualities instead of their party’s platform. Individual-level voting behavior as well as electoral participation, party choice, and electoral volatility at an aggregated level is analyzed.
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